Inheritance Cycle – Pack 3 – Justice for Satsume

Inheritance Cycle – Pack 3 – Justice for Satsume

Pack 3 of the Inheritance cycle gives the Crane two new Champions and opens up a few new themes for the other clans.

Conflict Between Kin

As a void province, this Crane card shares a slot with some of the best provinces in the game. The effect itself prevents events and attachments which match your opponent’s clan targeting your opponent’s characters. That means Lion aren’t going to be able to play Way of the Lion, Dragon aren’t going to be able to play Mirumoto Daisho and so on. It does however have a nasty side effect. In the mirror match of Crane versus Crane, you cannot target your opponent’s Crane characters with your own Crane cards! This is a weird card that despite the competition in the void slot, could be amazing, but only in the right meta. If the top decks are playing lots of clan events and attachments during conflicts, then this province could win games. Right now that isn’t the case, but it is one to watch for.

Effective Deception

A free cancel effect on the province! There are lots of triggered abilities, events, on characters, on attachments in play. This makes things a lot harder for your opponent forcing them to spend an extra card to try win the conflict. This province doesn’t help when your opponent is already taking the province, so it’s only relevant when you’re forcing your opponent to play cards to win the conflict. As an Earth province it competes with Upholding Authority and Vassal Fields and probably is the superior option for the Scorpion row.

Into the Forbidden City

Another Keeper only province, this time a Fire province which competes with Meditations on the Tao and Illustrious Forge. At 5 province strength, it is a little tougher than either and the ability does have some sought after attachment control. Unfortunately the effect can only target an attachment on an attacking character, so you can’t target attachments outside the conflict and you can’t clear a Cloud the Mind on one of your own characters. Similar to Meditations, once this is revealed your opponent is unlikely to attack it again with a character who has an attachment. That said, it does demonstrate the two key metrics for a province, it defends itself by destroying skill in the form of an attachment and it has a greater impact outside of the conflict as the attachment does not come back. Arguably, this is less reliable than Meditations as you’re more likely to see a character with fate than you are with an attachment. The effect will have more immediate impact, so this does seem like a solid choice especially in a meta where attachments are played. The province is in many ways similar to Frostbitten crossing, but has the benefit that Finger of Jade does not cancel it as Into the Forbidden City does not target the character. A Keeper of Air deck playing both provinces could make for a solid choice in a meta where attachments are important.

Hida Sugi

At 1 cost, this 2/1/1 character is good value. Bushi is a trait the Crab are interested in and cheap characters power up their sacrifice mechanics. The ability seems niche, but does have practical uses now we have recursion in the game. Obviously, you can take a card you’re interested in from your own dynasty discard and put in back into the deck hoping you’ll see it again (that will need some sort of shuffle effect). Alternatively, you can get a card out of your opponent’s discard pile. At the moment that would help in the mirror match against Rebuild and against Lion who have ways to get discarded dynasty characters back into play. You do need to win a conflict of course, which can be a bit tricky especially as it gives your opponent the opportunity to use the discarded card you were worried about. The ability really is just icing though, Hida Sugi will see play for his stats alone.

Doji Hotaru

A  new version of Hotaru, and thankfully this time a Courtier. As a Bushi as well as a Courtier, Hotaru has a decent amount of flexibility. Her ability is very centred on honor running, which is not yet considered a viable deck type. In that kind of deck however, Hotaru essentially prevents your opponent from playing any cards or they push you towards your victory condition. Until those last few points of honor though, your opponent can largely ignore her. She doesn’t fit into the current ‘meta’ Crane deck, but looks like she could be a lot of fun for those trying to win by honor.

Doji Kuwanon

Kuwanon is the other choice in what appears to be the start of a Crane civil war. With slightly better stats and a more proactive ability, Kuwanon probably is the better choice even if you do lose the flexibility of Hotaru’s Courtier trait. His ability is limited to military conflicts only, but the ability to bow a character with lower military is big, especially in Crane who typically tower their characters through a combination of honoring and weapons. Unlike Hotaru, Kuwanon is a card that does go into the current competitive Crane decks.

Trusted Advisor

Here we have another Courtier for the Dragon, with this cycle unexpectedly rounding out a Courtier deck. At 3 cost, the Advisor is outside of Assassination range but also pretty cheap. The skills are reasonable for the cost, but the ability is of greater interest. If you declare an attack with the Trusted Advisor, and you gain fate from one of the rings, then you can trigger the Trusted Advisor’s reaction to draw a card. That isn’t 100% reliably, but it is pretty consistent from turn 2 onward. Card draw, of course, is more important when card draw is not plentiful, so this character is more likely to be effective in a deck which is bidding 1 with a dishonour and hand lock strategy than in one where everyone is bidding 5 every turn. The upcoming Shiro Kitsuki stronghold which can claim rings mid combat will also allow the Advisor trigger their ability.

Court of Justice

Up until recently there were two kinds of cards that let you see your opponent’s hand, those that also discarded cards like Kitsuki Investigator and Policy Debate, and those that didn’t like Meek Informant. Cards that involved discard are clearly powerful and very popular, those that don’t aren’t. Court of Justice gives you more information about your opponent’s options but it doesn’t cut them down and help you. If your opponent was going to take the province, they still will. Knowing your opponent’s hand, does let you work through the optimal path for the turn, but it doesn’t actually change the options either player has. Unlike Meet Informant, you can’t control the timing on this and have to win a polotical conflict to trigger it. This card clearly is intended to help with Shiro Kitsuki, but by my estimation, you’re playing one bad card to help another bad card and that will never be a winning strategy.

Matsu Swiftspear

This new Lion character is the first serious element in the new ‘less cards in hand’ focus for Lion. She starts as a 2 cost 2/2 but when you have less cards in hand than your opponent she is an impressive 4/2! While simply having tons of skill and no tricks is a bad strategy, it certainly doesn’t hurt as a start. That the bonus is conditional is a little frustrating for Lion, less because they have to play a certain way to get it, but more because their opponent has an easier goal to prevent the bonus.

Steward of the Rich Frog

Another 2 cost character with good stats, this Lion Courtier has 1 military and 3 political giving Lion some political skill which they typically have been weak in. At this stage, the Lion have a range of good Courtier characters that might be of interest in a deck. The ability again focuses on the new ‘less cards in hand’ theme. In this case the benefit is a bit double edged. Having your characters unable to receive dishonored status tokens is great when the Scorpion are trying to dishonor you out but less good when the Crane have Duel to the Death or For Shame! Unfortunately, in some important matchups the trait ends up more of a negative than a positive. As the ability is not always on, you do have to be careful with your hand size when compared to your opponents. As with the Matsu Swiftspear it is easier for your opponent to equal your hand size than it is for you to have fewer cards which gives your opponent more opportunity to play around the Steward. Presumably this is a card intended for an honor deck where you’re bidding low and drawing few cards and are also keen to not lose honor.

Acolyte of Koyane

Phoenix have a limited number of 3 cost characters, so even a plain 3 cost 2/3/2  Shugenja is worth some consideration. That the ability is great certainly  helps. Being able to hand out Pride means you have it when it will benefit you, but don’t use the ability when you would suffer the drawbacks (assuming your opponent doesn’t manage to turn the conflict at the last moment). In many regards then this character is similar to the Asako Diplomat or Asako Tsuki but at 1 cost higher and focused on the target being in a political conflict which you win. Although the obvious option is to honor your own winning character, you can also dishonour your opponent’s losing character or remove an opponent’s Pride when they are about to win.

Isawa Heiko

A 5 base skill character for 4 fate seems impressive. The ability to switch stats triggers off a water card, right now Against the Waves, Clarity of Purpose, and Supernatural Storm are all water cards that see significant play in Phoenix decks. Unfortunately, although there are cases where Heiko’s ability will result in a big swing, much of the time it’ll really only be a few points of skill. Given the high impact of most of the Phoenix Shugenja, it’s unlikely Heiko will get a look in.

Shosuro Ibuki

This is the disguised character for the cycle for Scorpion. Ibuki can replace a Courtier character which the Scorpion have in plenty, but is a Bushi. At 4 cost for a 4/3 the stats are decent if uninspiring. The 2 glory may end up being a problem as the Bayushi stronghold likes having dishonored characters while the the Courtiers Ibuki would replace tend to end up dishonored due to their own effects, and that status token will be retained. The ability has the potential to make a mess of your opponent’s characters, but it will also effect your own characters (apart from Ibuki). The optimal scenario is where Ibuki is facing against all your opponent’s characters with fate, but then you need to somehow win the conflict to be able to trigger the effect. That said, as with so many of the disguised characters, their ability matters less than having disguised. Ibuki has the interesting twist of getting to use an extra feature of disguise, the discarding of the previous character. With Fawning Diplomat and Seppun Truthseeker both currently in Scorpion decks with effects when they are discarded, you can trigger them early using Ibuki.

Shinjo Gunsō

At 2 cost, the stats of 1/1/1 aren’t very inspiring, but the ability allows you to get another 2 (or less) cost character into play for free. That the effect discards cards from your dynasty deck is actually a bonus for use with Cavalry Reserves. To effectively use this, you are going to need a deck packed with cheap characters, so you are running a swarm deck. At the end of this, you’ve paid 2 cost and hopefully found a good 2 cost characters to go along with the Shinjo Gunso who really is just a 1 cost bonus at best. With a little luck, that Swarm style approach will be able to overwhelm your opponent.

Wayfarer’s Camp

At the start of the game, the Lion holding Staging Ground was quite popular with Lion decks running cheap characters. Eventually, however, players realised that taking extra actions during the dynasty phase guaranteed losing that key fate for passing first. Wayfarer’s Camp has a similar effect, but combines it with action compression lettings you take 3 actions into 1. One challenge, of course, is you need two characters to play. If you have a Wayfarer’s Camp and two other holdings then you’re in trouble, so you need to be mindful of this during deck construction. In a deck where you’re looking to churn cheap characters out however, this is perfect.

Warden of the Damned

As a 3 cost 2/2, this conflict character isn’t being played for stats alone. As a Monk character, it may have some particular interest for the Dragon. The effect, however, is where this character shines. If your opponent has a dishonored character, and you play a Warden after the last conflict, your opponent has very little play to prevent their character dying. While the effect is mirrored, if you don’t have any dishonored characters yourself then you can avoid this. As this is a character, rather than an attachment, you can drop additional fate on it to keep it happening every turn. Similarly, if you have two then everyone will have to sacrifice two characters. As it’s in faction, even though Crab don’t have a great number of ways to dishonour characters, this could be a good addition to the deck especially when paired with Way of the Crab and Assassination. For clans that do have ways do dishonour (Scorpion, Crane, and Dragon), this could be a fantastic splash. That said, this is a 3 cost kill that requires setup, the number of times it will sit in your hand and not work is likely to be high. Another case of high potential but needs testing.

Callous Ashigaru

Spending 1 fate on 2/1 is great when it’s a character, but is it really worth it when it’s an attachment? The line of 1 cost attachments that gave +2 military present in a number of clans rarely sees play competing as they do with the free of Fine Katana. To make things harder, this restricted attachment can only be played on an unique character. The effect certainly doesn’t make up for it, if you break one of your opponent’s provinces with this character then you can discard the cards in their other provinces too, presumably to clear holdings. Still, that’s all pretty lacklustre.

Justicar’s Approach

Attachments that create duels are always very popular as we’ve seen with Crane’s Duelist Training and Lion’s Truestrike Kenjutsu. This Dragon version has the potential to kill a character, but needs to build up to it by first dishonoring and then bowing the target. It can only go on a Courtier but is a military duel, so you’re looking for those rare Courtiers with good military or ways to boost your Courtier’s skill. Dragon players have been quite keen to get this working. It synergies quite well with Mirumoto Hitomi and For Shame! who both also dishonor or bow. As it gives an ability to the charater it works very well with Way of the Dragon which allows use of the ability a second time.

Unfortunately, in practice, it is a bit clunky for Dragon. The characters they normally like to tower for duels are not Courtiers and the number of high military Courtiers are limited. While the dream is always to kill a high-value opponent’s character, a dishonor or bow effect is often the most (or best) you can hope for.

Sharpen the Mind

Lion have received a couple of cards which become more powerful if you have less cards in hand than your opponent. Sharpen the Mind is a way to enable that by a card to get a +3/+3 bonus which is quite impressive. In a bid 5 meta where cards are abundant, this could be a good way to use dead cards in a particular match-up. In this case, Sharpen the Mind is a super charged Fine Katana or Ornate Fan. When card draw is limited, like when you are trying to stay more honorable than your opponent, then this strategy can become a challenge.

Stride the Waves

Favored Mount is a Unicorn attachment that for 1 fate gives you +1 military and lets you move into the conflict. It has seen some play, but not a lot. Stride the Waves is 2 fate, gives you +1/+1 and allows you to use the ability twice per turn either moving in or out of the conflict. Unfortunately, even though this is ‘twice as good’, it really isn’t worth it. There are some applications for this, Crane for example would be delighted to have their Guest of Honor in 3 conflicts every turn. That said, having to win the Water Ring to be able to trigger this mediocre effect for a high cost, doesn’t seem like a path to victory.

Shosuro Miyako

While disguised characters have merit just based on the keyword, Miyako is especially valuable as a conflict character. The condition means she can be tricky to play, but between Keeper Initiates and other neutral characters, this will be viable if not necessarily easy for Scorpion. She will be of interest for other clans as Miyako will be very reliable and also provides an easy way to dishonor. She makes a viable replacement for Mark of Shame especially in decks without an Air role. Unfortunately, there are only so many influence points to spend and Scorpion have a lot of great cards to choose from. Expect to see Miyako in a lot of decks.

Ujik Tactics

One sub-theme of the Unicorn is the having lots of cheap characters, and this effect which mirrors the Lion stronghold. The swarm style has struggled in the game partially due to the fate rules which encourage making a single character with fate and passing over making multiple characters without fate. In this cycle there are a number of cards that try solve that problem and make the deck style viable for Unicorn. Ujik Tactics is perhaps the most obvious of that. In an early conflict for the Unicorn swarm deck it might only be 2 or 3 skill, which will win conflicts and break provinces. In the late game, or after a Cavalry Reserves this will be more like 6 or 8 skill and will win games. Definitely a good card, but it really needs the right deck.

Now listen to our probably contradictory opinions!

This pack has a lot of great cards with every clan getting something of interest. Crab get the Warden that might spur a new control deck. Crane get Kuwanon who pushes their Bushi deck even further. Dragon get Trusted Advisor and the potential in Justicar’s Approach. Lion develops their new ‘less cards’ theme with Swiftspear and Sharpen the Mind. Phoenix get a great 3 cost Shugenja with Heiko. Scorpion get 2 Disguised characters. Unicorn get support for their swarm deck with Ujik Tactics and Shinjo Gunso (and maybe the camp). There definitely are some duds in this pack, cards that probably don’t even deserve the honor of a binder slot, but overall, this is a pretty good pack!

If you have any comments or feedback please post them in the comments section below. Check us out on the Imperial Advisor website, podcast, and YouTube channel for more discussion about the L5R LCG.

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